Toyota India explains why airbags may not deploy (yes, it can happen to anyone)
Toyota India states that airbags installed in Toyota cars are as per the industry’s safety standards, and conforms to all regulations. For airbag deployment, sensors attached to a car body measure impact responses, and transmit them as signals to a central control unit. This unit then compares gathered data to pre-programmed information, and decides whether deployment is required.
When airbag deployment criteria is met, an electrical signal is sent to the inflator unit, which ignites the propellants. If the criteria is not met, airbags do not deploy. In this case, Arun Nair’s Toyota Etios left hand (LH) side hit another SUV (a movable object). Resultantly, a large part of the impact was absorbed by the SUV. In this individual case, collision did not meet the prerequisite to warrant an airbag deployment. Going back to original source, a crack across the left hand side front window were visible.
If airbag deployment conditions aren’t met, and the airbag does not deploy, it’s not an indication to a potential fault in the airbag. Toyota Kirloskar Motor also clarifies that air bags are designed NOT to open under all accident situations as this may cause injury to occupants. TKM is constantly in touch with Arun Nair, working closely towards addressing his grievances.
As has oft been discussed, Indian auto industry is yet to make an overall concerted safety effort as the the proposed Vehicle Regulation and Road Safety Authority of India is still in draft stage in the Road Transport and Safety Bill. As per the draft, among other stipulations Road Transport and Safety Bill draft warrants a complaint by 100 or more people regarding defects in a particular car model to prompt Vehicle Regulation and Road Safety Authority of India to order a vehicle recall. Bharat New Vehicle Safety Assessment Program rollout will focus on passenger safety once front and side crash tests are regulated. India doesn’t yet have a new car assessment programme, so there’s no room to provide buyers with safety reports based on crash tests. Auto manufacturers here are not yet mandated to meet United Nation’s Global New Car Assessment Programme (Global NCAP) basic crash-test standards.
On the airbag deployment front, established parameters guide a car involved in a crash to determine when it should and when it should not deploy airbags. Deployment is seen to be high in certain frontal crashes above certain speed thresholds/parameters as set by a manufacturer. This is why in case of a low speed frontal collision into a solid concrete barrier, an airbag isn’t meant to deploy because this could seriously hurt occupants. Speeds are determined through crash tests into a solid concrete barrier.
While frontal airbags aren’t characteristically built to deploy in side impacts or rollovers, they could do so depending on sensor signals. Frontal airbags could also deploy if you were rear ended, and banged into the car in front of you. Frontal air bags also shouldn’t deploy if deceleration from front to back does not trigger a sensor in case of side or rear impact, or rollovers. Airbags are not designed to deploy in case of a minor frontal crash, when hitting an animal on a highway, when slightly brushing with a pavement or divider or a pillar in the parking lot, or on rough roads when going over uneven patches.